Sometimes truth really is stranger than fiction. That's certainly the case with the story Wendy Moore tells in How to Create a Perfect Wife: Britain's Most Ineligible Bachelor and His Quest to Train the Ideal Mate
. Moore combines engaging storytelling with exhaustive and impressive research as she brings to life the misadventures of the eighteenth-century gentleman Thomas Day.
Day, who was born in 1748 in London, was in many ways both a product of and a reaction to the prevailing forces of his day. Although he certainly took to heart (almost to a fault, as we'll see) the social and philosophical questions prevalent and popular at the time, he was also resistant to many of the eighteenth century's...
Beyond the Book
Wendy Moore illustrates the various cultural influences that led to Thomas Day's peculiar experiment. Among these are the Pygmalion myth (later popularized in George Bernard Shaw's play by that name, as well as the musical, My Fair Lady
, based on Shaw's play) and, perhaps most influentially, Jean-Jacques Rousseau's book, Emile, or On Education
. First published in 1762, the educational treatise uses novelistic conventions (such as character and plot) to illustrate Rousseau's theories on the best way for the individual to retain innate goodness while still participating as a...